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Bill Tuiloma scores in Timbers’ 1-0 victory over Austin

Bill Tuiloma scored on a diving header in the second half and the Portland Timbers handed Austin its first loss of the season with a 1-0 victory Saturday night

By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer
Published: March 12, 2022, 11:25pm

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Bill Tuiloma scored on a diving header in the second half and the Portland Timbers handed Austin its first loss of the season with a 1-0 victory Saturday night.

Tuiloma’s goal came off Yimmi Chara’s free kick in the 62nd minute to keep Portland undefeated in its first three matches of the year.

“Had a couple chances in the first half, kind of got frustrated but I told myself to stay calm and the goal will come, and eventually it did, which I’m happy about,” Tuiloma said. “But other than that, the back four — not just the back four, the whole the whole team — we battled to the end.

“Yes, we can improve, and in every game there’s always room to learn as a team and as an individual, but overall it was a great win.”

Austin got off to a hot start, with 10 combined goals in its first two games. But those goals came in wins against FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami, so the road match against the Timbers — who went to the MLS Cup final last year — was the team’s first true test.

Portland got back-to-back draws in its first two matches, against New England and LAFC. Chara had bicycle-kick goals in each of those games, earning him consecutive MLS Team of the Week spots.

“We put a lot of work into this game,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said. “And we were playing against a good team. Austin is a much improved team this season. I think we gave them a little too much respect (in) the first half. But in the second half, we were very good. We pressured them, we won balls. We could have scored more goals.”

Sebastian Driussi, who leads Austin with three goals and two assists, appeared to score on a tap-in in the 32nd minute but he was offside.

Portland’s best first-half chance came in the 40th, but Tuiloma’s attempt caromed off the post and the game was scoreless at the break.

The second half started in a downpour at Providence Park before Tuiloma’s diving header.

“I liked the way we stepped into this game, the way we competed,” Austin coach Josh Wolff said. “We knew we’d have the ball probably a bit more than than Portland, and I thought we managed the game in a pretty good way. We didn’t give up a whole lot, unfortunately we gave up one and we weren’t able to take our opportunities on the other side.”

Defender Justin Rasmussen, the 27th pick in the MLS SuperDraft out of Grand Canyon, made his first start for the Timbers. Left back Claudio Bravo was suspended for the game after a red card against LAFC last weekend.

The Timbers Army supporters group set off purple smoke bombs following Tuiloma’s goal to show support for victims of domestic violence. A former Portland player, Andy Polo, was accused by his estranged wife of abuse. Sheriff’s deputies were called to Polo’s home last May and he was cited but never charged with misdemeanor harassment.

The Timbers picked up the option on Polo’s contract last December, but he was terminated last month after his estranged wife came forward with the allegations. He has denied them.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/APSports